As Good as They Say: We Drive Tesla’s 2014 Model S

The Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S has been lauded across the industry by critics as heralding in a new era of transportation. Electric cars long suffered a rather stodgy reputation as being frumpy, bland, impractical for longer distances, and expensive. Virtually all of those factors — save for the last one, anyway — have been done away with in Tesla’s groundbreaking electric sedan-hatch, and on Memorial Day weekend, I was able to get a taste of what everyone was discussing as I took a 2014 Model S for a cruise around the suburbs of Chicago.

Let me start off by saying that in my past coverage of Tesla’s Model S, which has been rather plentiful over the past year, I have summed up others as making the argument that the Tesla is a luxury car first and an electric car second. That point of view was confirmed this past weekend, as in many ways, you forget you’re in an electric car at all (unless you’re actually driving it, naturally).

The model that I was able to slide behind the wheel of was an entry-level model, packing Tesla’s 60 kWh battery pack. It came equipped with the Tech Package (navigation, more LEDs, keyless entry, memory seats, the usual accoutrements) and wore an elegant coat of brown paint that could most accurately be described as a mocha-colored. Outside of the added tech bits and the more premium paint, it was a pretty standard Model S and quite representative of what the “base” model for Tesla is.

“But Justin,” you might be asking, “why didn’t you drive the 85 kWh model that’s more powerful?” Great question. First, the model I was able to drive was owned by a private party and was not supplied by Tesla itself. Second, driving the 60 kWh model affords the chance to really focus on the other aspects of the car — we know the 85 kWh battery pack is fast. We know it accelerates in the same manner as a Space Shuttle at launch. These things have been proven on the drag strip, on the track, and in virtually every comparison test that the Tesla has partaken in.